Thursday, June 21, 2007

This Kid Has Music in Him Already.

Teddy as a Drummer:
Teddy as a Bassist:

Teddy as a Dancer/ Background Screamer... i mean Singer: I'm a little worried i'm gonna lose my drumming job if his parents keep putting those sticks in his hands... guess i better start practicing!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Check Cards, Credit Cards, and the Things That Read Them.

Debit or Credit. We hear this in our lives a lot nowadays. Will probably be hearing it a lot more in the future too. But there has been a major oversight in this whole trend of paying with plastic as opposed to cash. Actually a few... but we'll get there.

One of the first problems that arises involves the card readers that the customers themselves are told to use. "You can swipe your card there" as they usually say... but every store has a different one. Once you swipe your card, it's almost a guaruntee that the machine will assume that you want to use debit, but there is NO easy way to declare that you want to use your card as a credit card. A lot of times, you need to push either CANCEL, or NO (both of which are normally on these machines). But some stores, when you push cancel, it cancels the whole thing, and you end up looking like an idiot and having to swipe your card once again, and ask the clerk how to make the machine do what you want.

Some places handle this better than others... Wegmans (of course) has proven to be one of the easiest places to use plastic (though it is still not without it's troubles). You swipe your card, and it brings up a menu. This menu has "credit, debit, something else, and gift card" buttons on the touch screen.... if you push credit, it requires the cashier to push a button to confirm that is what you want to do, then it brings up a signature screen on the touch screen, you sign and be on your way (side note: you must spend at least $25 to require a signature, otherwise, it just prints the receipt). If you push debit, the cashier pushes his button, and it brings up the numpad on the touchscreen for you to put in your PIN with a big ENTER button at the bottom. Sadly, this is the EASIEST way i've seen it done.

I said before that some are better than others... and i think i've found the worst too... Shoppers has a card reader that has the WORST order of operations i've ever seen. This pad isn't a touch-screen like some others, instead, it has a numpad, a big green enter/yes, and a big red cancel/no, and to the right of the screen, F1, F2, F3 and F4. You swipe your card, and it brings up 4 options next to the F's... credit, debit, gift, and cancel... or something to that effect... where you have to push the F's to choose.... When you choose credit, you sign in the little touchscreen on the pad, and instead of pushing the BIG GREEN ENTER button... you have to push F1... You effectively NEVER push the BIG GREEN ENTER button... but are confined to the F's. The cashiers at Shoppers have gotten so fed up with this system that they have put a little sign on the pad, that tells you to push F1..... which people effectively NEVER see, because it's right in front of their face.

I asked the Cashier yesterday how many times he says "push F1" in a day, and he just rolled his eyes and said "too many." I feel his pain working in the dairy and getting asked where the velveeta was 30 times a day.

Using credit cards brings forth another problem i've seen...

Some stores you go to, you still have to hand them your card and have them swipe it. Most of the time, when the register prints the receipt, it prints out the customer's copy first, then it prints the copy that needs to be signed. THIS IS BACKWARDS. The first thing that any register should print should be the piece that needs to be signed... Now it's not a life or death situation, but it's freaking annoying.

The third problem that i've seen involves the card readers where the employee punches in the amount of money to be charged by hand. This is just dumb design. Everyone makes mistakes, but who wants to be at the wrong end of a $67.55 burger when it's only worth $6.75. Granted, the company will most assuredly refund the money, but this is just bad business tactics. Put something that's a little more fool-proof and i'll be happy.

My suggestion to any merchant that accepts credit cards, is to find a reader that doesn't make the customer feel like an idiot. There are some "new" ways to pay with credit cards that look really interesting... They are kinda like Exxon's speedpass, but with credit cards. I have only seen a few places that are able to accept this, but hopefully it's gaining popularity...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Staying True to Form.

A couple months ago, i lived with my brother Tom. It was nice freeloading off of them for a while... but times change, and people grow babies and stuff... so i decided to get out of there while i could (aka: before pregnant hormones kicked in... sorry Becky, you understand though).

Throughout my stay at the L.P. (Tom's house), I found out that i had really found a friend in their 1st child (read: Maddy). She would just WAIT and WAIT for me to sit on the couch so she could have a nice comfy place to sleep (aka: me). So it became apparent that i was one of her favorite places to sleep... so much so that she would almost never hear when one of them came home. I really didn't think much of this.... UNTIL....

So now i think it's just a trend that all of tom's kids will seek me out as their personal mattress... which i'm ok with, but once they hit 14 or 15, it's gotta stop. So enjoy the pictures of Teddy and his favorite uncle/mattress.

P.S. He stayed asleep on me like so for almost an hour and a half.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Some Things Just Bother Me.

I have realized that some companies are better than others. There are mainly 2 things that bother me which seem very very easy to avoid. Of course there's always the things that anyone would complain about, such as dirty bathrooms, stuff being misorganized, anything that makes shopping hard... but i'm not talking about that. I'm talking about things that mainly go unnoticed because they do not harm business, and they don't yell out at you like a leaky faucet, or a stinky garbage can.

The first of my 2 complaints are stores with a lighted sign in the front. Only, they have a few letters where the bulb has burned out. Whenever i see a store that is missing a letter, it says to me that the management is lazy... or they are penny-pinchers who are looking to save a few bucks to increase profit. I know that if i had a store, and the sign read Owe s Importing and Exporting, It would be fixed that night or the next day. Period. To me, there is no better way to say to the customer, "Hey, I don't care enough about my store's outer appearance, so i don't care about you." This offense is equally as dissatisfying to me as a store who never washes the windows, with fingerprints and gunk stuck on. Lack of professionalism. That's what it says. So fix your signs, and get back to me.

Moving on... double doors.

Store managers... If you have a double door to your store, please, for the love of God, KEEP THEM BOTH UNLOCKED. Nothing creates awkward situations quite like a double door where only 1 door opens. Just think of how many times you have tried to walk into a store, you pull the handle, and it's locked... Just at that same instant, someone is exiting the store, and of course they're walking right for the unlocked door (the one you did not choose), so you have to go through the "will they open the door for me, or am i going to open the door for them?" dance. What good is a double door where only 1 door works? Essentially, they should've just saved the trouble of building 2 doors, and just made it 1... they put 2 doors there for a reason, they might as well use them... I'm not sure if people think it saves money on heating/AC bills to have only 1 door that opens, but to me... it's worth the extra 7 cents a month so that my customers will be able to enter and exit at their own will.

What makes this even worse, is when there's the double, double door. I've actually walked into a store that had the left door locked on the first stage of doors, and then on the second set, the right door was locked, so you essentially had to walk through the left door, then the right door to get into the store. Can you guess how many door handles i touched in that 30 seconds?

4, that's how many. All because i guessed wrong on the first set of doors, then assumed that the same side was going to be unlocked for the second go-round. Wrong. It is just infuriating to me that i have to go through this to enter your store... not to mention that anyone who guesses wrong looks and feels like an idiot for having problems opening the door to a very "open for business" store. Its almost the same feeling as walking up to a store window at 9:05 when they close at 9 and having them lock you out... you feel like an a moron for not knowing that they closed.

Even when 1 of the doors is broken, this is still unacceptable to me. Once again, if i had my own store, this would be fixed immediately... I would call whoever i needed to get this fixed. Pay whatever i need to make it better. And if they can't do it until friday, then they really don't deserve my business, and i'll replace those inconvenient to fix doors with something that i know is going to work. Even if i have to do it myself.

In conclusion, I've seen what it takes to keep a store at the top of the game when it comes to appearance and customer service, and i've seen the lengths that some store owners/managers take to ensure their customer's satisfaction. It's not so much as something they do, but just their general attitude to the way that they treat their customers and their investments to make them as perfect as they can day in and day out. If i ever own a store, you can be damn sure that both the doors will be unlocked during business hours, and the sign will have all working lights. I guarantee it.

I'm an Uncle!

I am an uncle. I'm very excited about this... but i will spare you guys with a mushy-gushy blog... and instead just refer you all to Mom's Blog and Dad's Blog for pictures.

P.S. All of you should comment on mom's blog to get her to write more...